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Council eases alcohol sale rules

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

A convenience store that has been closed since December may have the opportunity to reopen after the Lockhart City Council amended rules regarding the sale of alcohol on Tuesday evening.
The store, located in the Park Plaza shopping center on State Park Road, has been leased by a new proprietor, who has not been able to

open pending the acquisition of a TABC license allowing the sale of beer and wine, according to the shopping center”s owner, Isaac Nohra. However, the city”s existing ordinance had prevented city approval for the license, because two church groups meet in the same shopping center, and are located less than 300 feet from the convenience store.
“The current ordinance doesn”t say anything about [the sale of alcohol] for off-premises consumption right now,” said city planner Dan Gibson, who brought the proposal to change the existing ordinance to the council. “So right now, no matter what business wanted to come in, if they wanted to have a convenience store or a grocery store that sells beer or wine, they couldn”t move in if the location is 300 feet or less from a church or school.”
Gibson noted that several cities have similar ordinances. However, unlike Lockhart”s ordinance, most specifically address grocery stores, convenience stores and other “off-premises sale” locations.
Certain provisions in the drafted ordinance drew fire from councilmembers.
“I”d like to see the word “school” stricken from [this ordinance],” said At Large Councilmember Dick Weiland.
Weiland”s concern was that, in the future, convenience stores might have carte blanche to set up shop near Lockhart”s many schools.
District One Councilmember Kenny Roland added a concern that the ordinance, because it does not specifically address liquor stores, might set an undesirable precedent of what Roland called “discrimination.”
“What this ordinance is doing is telling business owners that it”s okay if they want to sell beer and wine, but not if they want to sell hard liquor,” Roland said. “You can get just as drunk off beer as you can off whiskey.”
District Four Councilmember Michael Sanders, however, thought the ordinance, as written, would serve the immediate purpose for which it was intended.
“Lockhart is changing and growing,” he said. “We need to take a first step here and get the change to this ordinance in place so this store can open. Later, if we need to, we can review it and change it if we need to.”
Sanders” viewpoint was supported by a majority of the council.
The ordinance, which will allow for the sale of beer or wine (intended for off-premises consumption only) within 300 feet of a church or school passed with a 5 – 2 vote.
Mayor James “Jimmy” Bertram noted that he had spoken with representatives of the two churches in the shopping center prior to the issue coming before the council. He reported that one of the groups supported the initiative, provided sale was limited to beer and wine. The other organization plans to leave the shopping center in the near future.
In brief council news:
Eight non-profit organizations approached the council to request funding during the next fiscal year. The organizations made total requests upwards of $40,000. The City will likely have only $22,000 or so to contribute. Decisions about the contributions will be made during a later council meeting.
Assistant City Manager Vance Rodgers presented information regarding LCRA policies in the event of a “rolling blackout.” As a part of a load-shed plan released to Rodgers last week, two of the major electric lines that feed the City of Lockhart are on the list of lines to be shut down in the event of a severe electrical outage or rolling blackout. According to information Rodgers presented to the council, dozens of local businesses would be affected by such a shutdown.
The council considered a proposal that would allow local groups, including Little League and soccer leagues, to use land in the Lockhart Industrial Park for practice fields.
They approved a request from a local property owner to cut down two protected trees on his property on Commerce Street. However, the property owner agreed to plant trees in other areas to replace those that he hopes to cut down.
The council appointed and removed members on several boards and commissions.
The Lockhart City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month in the Glosserman Conference Room at Lockhart City Hall. Meetings are open to the public and are also televised on Time Warner Cable Channel 10.

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